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Visa Requirements for Australia

As Australia is a very popular expat country, chances are that you may also consider moving to Australia. Congratulations on this great choice! This guide briefs you on the most important aspects of preparing your move to Australia, such as popular expat destinations and visa requirements.

Visa Requirements

A traditional immigration country, Australia offers a variety of visa types. While it would be impossible to deal with all of them here, we will provide a short overview of the three main categories relevant to expats and people planning to work in Australia.

To begin with, there is a list of basic requirements which all applicants, no matter the category, should meet. These conditions include:

  • English language proficiency: everyone whose native language is not English must achieve a certain score specified for their visa category and/or sign up for English classes in Australia before arrival.
  • Skills, qualifications and/or work experience relevant either to an occupation nominated on Australia’s Skilled Occupations List, or to the employer who sponsors you.
  • Health: all permanent visa applicants and some temporary visa applicants (depending on their profession) must meet certain health requirements. These will be specified in your visa application form. If you are asked to attend a health examination before coming to Australia, consult the nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate for a list of government-approved doctors.
  • Character: visa applicants are assessed according to the character requirement and may have to provide a penal clearance certificate.
  • Australian Values Statement: by signing the Australian Values Statement, you signal that you are willing to accept the Australian way of life and obey the local laws.

Visas for People with Job Offers

If you already have a job offer in Australia, you will apply for an Employer Sponsored Migration visa your prospective employer will apply for this visa on your behalf. Types in this category include temporary and permanent visas.

The most common temporary visa is the Temporary Work (skilled) visa; employers use it to sponsor an overseas skilled worker for a maximum period of four years. This visa is tied to the employer who acts as a sponsor and to your general occupation, but not to one particular position within the company.

One type of permanent visa in this category is the Employer Nominated Scheme Visa. This type of visa allows employers to sponsor qualified expats to fill vacancies within their company that cannot be filled by Australian applicants.

Visas without a Job Offer

The SkillSelect program is for people who want to move to Australia in order to seek employment. They do not need a sponsor, but they have to prove that they have the skills and qualifications necessary to work in an occupation on the Australian Skilled Occupations List.

If you possess skills that are currently in demand on the Australian labor market, you will also need to pass a test by scoring a minimum number of points. The points are awarded based on the level of English language skills, specific work experience, or other skills that your partner might bring to the country.

It used to be the case that a good point score automatically qualified you to apply for a permanent immigrant visa on a national or regional level. However, this is no longer the case. For information on the new application scheme, please read the paragraph below carefully.

The New Skilled Migration Program

If you are interested in a Skilled Migration Visa, you should know that the Australian government has changed its General Skilled Migration program to the Skill Select scheme mentioned above. As of 1 July 2012, every potential immigrant must follow these steps:

  • They need to have their professional qualifications recognized.
  • They must pass an English test.
  • Their data has to be entered into the SkillSelect immigration database.

According to immigration quota for various occupations, the Australian government then invites the candidates with the highest number of points to lodge a visa application. If you are not selected immediately, your entry will remain in the database for two years, and you may receive an invitation at a later point. The SkillSelect database is also accessible to state governments and individual employers, who can support you as a potential visa candidate as well.

Working Holidays

The young and adventurous might want to consider the popular Working Holiday (or Work and Holiday) visa. This is for people aged between 18 and 30 who would like to support themselves while traveling in Australia by taking on temporary jobs. The visa is valid for a maximum period of twelve months, but you cannot work for the same employer for more than six months. If your primary reason for going to Australia is to take up employment, this might not be the best option.

More detailed information on living and working in Australia, plus a very useful “visa finder” that helps you find the right type of visa for your purposes, can be found on the website of the Australian Government Department for Immigration and Citizenship.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Serhat Ahmed

"Without experience of having lived abroad, I thought it would be hard to get to know other expats. But not with InterNations."

Lotta Koskinen

"When I first attended the Sydney Bar night I was really nervous. But everyone welcomed me and I quickly felt as part of the community."

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